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Start-ups urged to combat skills shortage with part-timers

Wednesday, 22 December 2010 | By Michelle Hammond

Start-ups are being urged to utilise part-time employment in the New Year as the skills shortage continues to take its toll.


Recent reports by Hudson Australia and MyCareer highlight a strong demand for new employees across almost every sector, with more than a third of employers looking to increase their permanent staff levels.


Kate Webster, managing director of Priorities – Flexible Employment Strategies, says employers should regard part-time employees as the most effective way to fill staffing vacancies.


“As the market tightens, we are already seeing our clients seeking part-timers in preference to lower skilled full-timers,” she says.


Webster identifies the financial services sector as one of the worst sectors suffering from the skills shortage, with employees struggling to attract new staff in the wake of the GFC.


“[Businesses in financial services] laid off staff fairly heavily during the GFC… A lot of people, particularly part-time workers and women, found alternative employment and have not expressed any desire to go back into financial services,” she says.


Webster is confident the Federal Government’s Paid Parental Leave scheme, which comes into effect on January 1, will serve as an incentive for women to return to the workforce either on a part-time or full-time basis.


“Keeping people, and women in particular, within the workforce mindset – by having a parental leave scheme or firm structures in place to encourage continued contact with their workplaces and ways to engage with their colleagues while they’re actually on parental leave – works very well in terms of retaining women in the workforce and getting them back on board,” Webster says.


“So I think [the Paid Parental Leave scheme] will have a beneficial impact on women returning to work after having children because they still consider themselves to be part of the workforce while on leave.”


According to Webster, one of the main areas in which Australia is yet to tap into part-time employment is the IT industry.


“I feel that in the future, we’ll probably have a much higher uptake of people moving towards IT as a career option,” she says.


Webster says part-time employment can be made to work with “intelligent job design” in any sector.


“Depending on how an employer designs the role and is realistic about what can be achieved during the available time, or what they need to be achieved, there is no reason why any industry can’t incorporate part-time or flexible employment,” she says.